Labral Tears: Blowing your Gasket

Shoulder painWashers and gaskets are devices that form a type of seal between objects in order for the mechanics of them to work. If something happens to these, the whole machine can break down. Your joints are actually quite similar.

There is a ring of soft, fibrous tissue surrounding the ball and socket joints of your hips and shoulders. This cartilage, called the labrum, is what keeps the joints in place and allows the bones to fit together. If torn, the damaged labrum can cause instability and painful movement. If you have shoulder pain or hip pain, tests may reveal that labral tears are the reason behind it.

Unhappy Hips

Hip labral tears are often seen in athletes who participate in high impact sports like hockey and football, as well as activities that entail repetitive motions like soccer, golf, baseball, and ballet. Structural abnormalities may also be to blame. While many times symptoms may go unnoticed, you may experience pain in your hip or groin, a locking or catching sensation in your hip joint, and stiffness or reduced range of motion. It’s important to pay attention to your body’s signals, since these tears can leave you predisposed to osteoarthritis if left untreated.

Sore Shoulders

Labral tears in the shoulder typically occur as a result of a direct blow, sudden pull, or falling on an outstretched arm. This injury causes pain with movement, especially in activities that involve raising your arms above your head. Your joint may lock, pop, or grind, and may feel unstable and weak. You will also experience a decreased range of motion. The labrum is an attaching point for several ligaments, so damage may also involve those.

Determining Damage

It is important to seek medical help in order to determine your condition and what can be done about it. You will be asked to go through a series of movements to evaluate range-of-motion and pinpoint pain. An X-ray or MRI will be taken to confirm the injury and locate the tear. This is also a way to check for structural issues or additional problems, like fractures. Once diagnosed, treatment can begin.

Treatment for Tears

Treatment depends on the severity of your condition. You may recover in just a few weeks using only conservative methods. Anti-inflammatory medications and rest can relieve pain and other symptoms. Physical therapy is beneficial as well. Conditioning the muscles surrounding the joints with strength and flexibility exercises can help restore function and prevent future problems. In severe cases or those that do not respond to conservative efforts, arthroscopic surgery can be used to remove or repair the damaged tissues. Recovery cannot be rushed. You will wear a sling for three to four weeks, then gradually rehabilitate until full range of motion is returned in three to four months.

If you are suffering from hip pain or shoulder pain as a result of labral tears, make an appointment with Dr. Jennifer Molner at Castle Pines Physical Therapy today. She’ll help get your body back to performing like a well-oiled machine once again! Call us at (303) 805-5156 to visit our office in Castle Pines, CO.